In 2004, while on a trip to rural East Africa, computer programmer Matt Flannery had an idea for a way his friends back home could participate in helping provide tiny capital investment funds to the small-business entrepreneurs he was filming. At the time, it seemed like a wholly impractical idea to many. Yet five years later, by 2009, well over 600,000 individuals had made microloans through the Kiva web site, with a full repayment rate of more than 98 percent, to more than a quarter of a million individual entrepreneurs around the world.